The rapid growth of online education, coupled with instances of lax academic integrity and cases involving questionable instructional quality, has put the entire industry under the microscope. As a result, today’s distance education programs are looking to not only prove the quality of their programs, but improve them as well.
Online Course Design and Preparation
Sometimes content delivered in a traditional classroom setting can fall flat in an online course where your students don’t get to benefit of your voice inflections, gestures, etc. If you have material that you like to deliver face-to-face, but are concerned about presenting it in the online arena you can be creative when you include the material in your course and be assured that the content is delivered in a manner that you are comfortable with.
If you have taken online courses, you have likely gained some valuable insights into what to do and what not to do as an online instructor. If you have never been an online learner, here are some lessons learned from Anna Brown, a learning technology specialist enrolled in a hybrid doctoral program in learning technologies.
One of the most important responsibilities online instructors face is teaching students how to think critically. Successful achievement of this task requires that instructors provide the right setting and the appropriate activities that will prompt a student on to higher-level thinking. Though this mission is not exclusive to online instruction, the online environment presents some unique challenges and opportunities that distinguish this type of learning environment from traditional face-to-face classroom instruction.
When designing an online course we tend to create the course based on our needs and time restraints, and often do not think of our students and the reasons why they are taking an online course. To effectively meet our students diverse needs, we must step back and ask ourselves:
When we teach online courses there are many fundamental issues that concern us: knowledge of our subjects, teaching strategies, engagement of students, school policies, deadlines, grading and returning of assignments, posting announcements, and responding to students—the list goes on.
There are two common assumptions about teaching online that can sink even the most well-meaning neophyte. One is that “teaching is teaching” regardless of whether it’s face-to-face or online and there’s no reason to deviate from the proven principles that work so well in the traditional classroom. The second assumption is that teaching online is all about the technology, and if you design your course properly, it pretty much runs itself.
Some students are reluctant to enroll in online courses, afraid they will miss some of the social aspects of the face-to-face classroom. For these students, it makes sense to incorporate online synchronous sessions to provide some of the benefits of the face-to-face class while maintaining most of the flexibility of an asynchronous online course.
Andrea Henne, dean of online and distributed learning in the San Diego Community College District, recommends creating online courses composed of modules—discrete, self-contained learning experiences—and uses a course development method that specifies what to include in each module.